tv [untitled] November 19, 2010 6:30pm-7:00pm PST
supervisor maxwell: how long was it? >> about 60 minutes to 90 minutes. that was an in class overview. and how the transfers are done and sore -- and so forth. interestingly, a few days later based on this training we were able to walk through and do a site visit of liquefied natural gas. we were on scene and saw how that occurred. something we had never done before. supervisor maxwell: supervisor mirkarimi and em supervisor mirkarimi:? supervisor mirkarimi: - -- supervisor mirkarimi? supervisor mirkarimi: we have catalogued a number of electoral
incidences of outages, which is probably par for the course for many cities around the country. transformers that blew up, manhole covers that were skyrocketing through neighborhoods in downtown. if you could, give us a little bit of an impression on that reality. the feedback that we get from constituents is not as rosy, potentially, as what you intimated. >> i do have one more slide to get through and then i can address your questions for mr. lee. he worked very closely on the issue of transformers and that issue itself. i do not want to make it sound rosy. the san francisco fire department and the city in general has a good and productive working relationship with pacific gas and electric,
as evidenced by the request for training and of their responsiveness in this review panel. anything that we asked for talking with other cities in terms of a subpoena and so forth, we have a good working relationship. as fire chief i want to be clear that i want them to be accountable. the department's experience is one that where there is an issue, it is addressed in a timely fashion. i think that mr. lee would be able to attest to that as well. supervisor mirkarimi: you did mention the electrical side, i will wait for mr. lee. >> thank you. continuing the time line, on october 27 i had the opportunity to meet with mr. vice and the investigation, he gave me an update in terms of where they
were at. it was a work in progress where they thought anywhere between 10 months 18 months to come up with a reason. he did share with me that as the ntsb investigation progressed, they provided information periodically through the public accent docket. we would be able to have that information. they indicated that when they completed that investigation, probable cause and recommendation to the board members during a public board meeting, i will participate in that sickly or spiritually. -- saidl6civically or spiritual. we are invited to attend and i will keep in touch for updates
from ntsb. on november 10, the department of public works posted a town hall publication that provided an overview of the regulatory requirements for making and locating utilities prior to construction. much of the work that we do when we respond to gas leaks has to do with private contractors and tapping into a line. and then you have a gas leak. there is an obligation on the part of the contractor to make sure that they properly marked and work with utility companies before they do their work. we thought this would be a good idea in terms of public works hosting this meeting to again emphasize the importance for contractors and their obligation that they have to properly address these issues before they start opening the ground. in the follow-up meeting on december 8 with pg&e was to
discuss in present detail the issues related to shutdown procedures and whether or not pg&e is interested or inclined in having automatic or remote control shut off in the length of time that it took to shut down the line. that concludes the update that we have to date. again, i am keenly interested in making sure that our citizens are kept safe. i applaud you for your interest and diligence in following up to see that pg&e is held accountable and that we are given the information needed to do our job as safely and efficiently. supervisor chiu: any additional follow up some supervisor mirkarimi:? has there been an -- any additional follow-up? supervisor mirkarimi: has there been any additional investigation?
>> the testing was done on all lines in the city within 36 hours. we tested negative. supervisor mirkarimi: before that test, were any of those lines ever identified as high priority or high risk? >> not to my understanding, they were not. they were not on that top 10 list. again, i am not the expert. i would respectfully request waiting for mr. johnson. supervisor mirkarimi: is there a system that exists so that there is a categorization of high risk, medium risk, no risk at all? is that information fluid with the city and county? >> yes, that has been provided as a part of the request supervisor mirkarimi:. -- request.
supervisor mirkarimi: are we going to be able to follow through to say -- if we are talking gas, talking the entire infrastructure is fine as well, but if there was already an assessment or ranking saying that this is what needs attention, does san francisco get that information at the same time? >> that is the request we have made. on the electrical side, like i said, i think we are more advanced in terms of our dialogue. we would like to engage and have the same process on the gas inside. my thought would be that on a quarterly basis a small group of us from the city continue to meet with pacific gas and electric for those kinds of updates. if it is a fluid process, going from a medium priority to a high
priority, that is our interest. supervisor mirkarimi: who is in the driver's seat to determine, if there is a dire need for high priority need, however it is to be labeled, that something needs to be fixed? who in the city determines that that is followed through on? is that the fire department? >> it is my responsibility, as well as the city administrator. we are doing this in conjunction with both departments. i have taken the lead from the gas perspective. mr. lee has done a lot of the electrical side. we are both committed to making sure that pg&e is held accountable and that we receive updates. something with shifting priorities gets addressed immediately. supervisor mirkarimi: thank you. supervisor chiu: let's invite
the city administrator. i know that you have a presentation from your perspective. supervisor chu supervisor chu:? -- supervisor chu? supervisor chu: just a question for the chief about the information that has been provided regarding major transmission lines that had been provided to the department along with city administrators understanding the potential risks. have we given much thought about the kinds of information given to the public? if it is located in residential areas, is that something we would want to make public? have we thought about that question belloc's -- question? >> i know that if a member of the public is within a certain radius of a transmission line, they would have the ability to
work with pg&e along that line to get that information. the city has not specifically address the if we will be providing that information, but it is in our best interest to make the public aware that they have the ability to find out about certain utility infrastructure on their homes. supervisor chu: similar to that, members of the board representing different districts, are there things that we should be made aware of? i would request that we be kept in the loop. >> no problem. supervisor chiu: mr. lee? >> good morning, supervisors. i wanted to let you know, pg&e has joined us. they have both the gas, electrical sides with us. i wanted to finish a portion of what i thought was very important for you to understand.
as the chief and i have been deliberating, initial meetings deliberated for us the highest level or highest number of gas leaks and what they are caused by. they are caused by a contractor excavation in the city. we immediately went to a very large town hall meeting as previously described by the chief last wednesday. there were some 50 contractors or agencies that attended. we will continue. that was just a first meeting. it served not only to have the underground service announcement agency, the u.s.a., as you see those markings along the street, for the public to understand these markings -- it is precisely to guide those contractors as permitted by the city, public and private, so that they are aware of those utilities and are sensitive to
the utility's beneath the ground when it comes time to excavate. as the case may be, despite the best efforts and past practices, they always need to be updated in proof. the highest level of interruption has been gas leaks that result from excavation. this can happen in many districts throughout the city. we have made it a high priority for that event to occur. we have periodically revisited with all of the contractors and staff from the public utilities commission, the port commission, any of the staffing people that do project management we have a very old city. if anything, we had a tremendous
amount of utilities underground. there contractors are being contacted and we expect to have a larger audience for our next review. that is a huge amount of education but also a huge effort underway to do adequate prevention in the area that we know will exist. having said that, specific to supervisor mirkarimi's question about the electric side of it, i have been heading a group where we look at the review with pg&e over the reliability of the electric system in the city. we have been working and meeting for about a year and a half. as i can say to you today, i can
say the electoral system is both a sensitive and complicated system. we have both old and new equipment in our city. it takes us a long time to understand how that system works, how we can improve it, how we can prevent some of the explosions that have occurred in the city. a year and a half ago we experienced several series of explosions in the city, most of which in the downtown corridor. as a result of that, we entered a study using outside experts as well as pg&e staff to inform us about these underground transformer networks that exist in our city. as a result of that, we focused on how they not only work, but how they were historic lee inspected by pg&e.
one of the most serious lesson we learned was that their inspection were faulty. they simply did not work to prevent the kind of exposure that occurred on davis street downtown and on the more celebrated one on post and carney. those explosions resulted in injury to public persons. as a result of the intense review that was done by pg&e staff, reviewed by outside experts who had informed us, we focused on why there was a mixture of water getting into the oil-based transformers. we have oil-based transformers that have been the most popular transformer networks in our city for years, decades. as a result of that study, we were literally able to work with
&e to change the inspection process so that the visual inspection that occurred in the past are no longer the standard. we were actually able to get a new standard for our transformers. now they use an infrared transformer, alongside a six- month taking of samples from the oil and studying whether or not that oil has been compromised. those two steps have transformed, if i may use that word, their inspection technologies and methodologies and we are getting about a 23% less of these explosions occurring. there have been no explosions since a year and a half ago since those very visible ones, no explosions of the particular nature.
as i said, it is still a complicated system. as we have learned this past spring, we had another explosion in the tenderloin community, just about three blocks away from city hall. we discovered it was not the oil being compromised in there, but thea dc cable that have failed n the transformer network. we met for months with pg&e staff and concluded those cables were too old for our city. direct current should not be in our city. therefore, we launched an effort with pg&e in an effort not only to replace them, but to replace the d.c. current cables in the city. that will take time and money but they are on the way to doing that. it is another one of those
items, as a result of the cooperative information we are getting and review from outside experts, to tell us what has caused some of these explosions. we focused on the direct current cable system in our city. those are the cables that still run some of the elevators throughout the city. some of the major hotels in the city. we looked at other cities. we got some reports about how they have been able to replace their d.c. cables and go to a non-d.c. cable system to power the city. we are also meeting with pg&e about the possibility that they completely remove oil-based transformers in the city. we believe there is new technology out there that is being tried from other cities. we are looking at that as well, trying to get the best practices from very large urban settings,
old settings like los angeles, chicago, new york, and getting their history of transformer explosions. we will do the same thing with gas line explosions. and we will be working with the puc and pga to determine what best practices would be. i wanted to provide you with a few of those highlights. we can produce a more adequate report that will cover the year and a half of meetings we have had. at the same time, i want to let you know these power outages resulting from electricity, we have kept a log, but down the road, we could probably use the services of 311 to map out a district by district chart of the outages, how often they occur, and what we have done about them. we have tried to isolate every
outage we have had and have tried to see if they are related to a d.c. cable, that were compromise, some of the larger things we are focusing on to increase the reliability of the system but also provide a higher level of scrutiny and safety. with respect to the blood manhole covers, as was also mentioned earlier, there is another best practice that we have uncovered. we have requested, demanded pg&e to look at all of the manhole covers in the downtown area where we have historically had larger transformer networks. at times, these covers have been very dangerous, as you can realize. there is a new kind of cover that we have been able to identify, called a swivel lock,
which can lock itself but still allow gas to escape. the manhole covers have to be designed in such a way so that gas can escape so that it will not build up. if there is an explosion of any sort, they ought to be let -- locked in tight enough so that they do not become a danger to the public. some of these old metal covers have been compromised not only with age but also with the heavy traffic, the articulate and buses that run downtown, the heavy machinery and equipment running on those roads. as these manholes have been compromised, they can slip out easily. this swivel lock technology, which i think a state-of-the- art, we are demanding that pg&e take a look at that and replace all of the old manhole covers.
they can give you an update on that. i would say, my conclusion to date, it is still a delicate system when you are brave and electricity to run our neighborhood. it caps challenges in undergrounding as well as overhead transformers that have exploded because of moisture, age, because of the elements. we are continuing to look at those as well because they can be just as dangerous to our public. we have requested not only that they use the infrared inspection process for the underground transfer of service but also for the overhead to make sure they are not compromised together with that. so with that, i can follow up with a written report. that concludes our previous data gathering that we had done in our meetings. i am here to answer any
questions you might have. supervisor chiu: we have a couple of questions from colleagues. supervisor mirkarimi: another incident that i do not think he mentioned what happened earlier this year was in my district. there was a dramatic incidents, whether through a transformer or whatever the implosion, explosion was, it created quite a scare for a number of constituents residing between districts 5 and 2. the aftermath was where we heard most of the complaints, the debris that had been left behind. i know there have been wrangling with the city between pg&e, over who would do with the debris. so it is not just the actual incident itself, but the cleanup was not well handled. just looking to the larger
perspective, in terms of making sure there is strong follow up. in terms of best practices, i wanted to look at numbers that we got from the cbc -- cpuc. in 2006 the average begin the customer had twice as many hours without power as southern california edison customers and four times as san diego gas and electric. as you just enumerated, there have been a number of dangers explosions, manhole covers, and other. based on the best practice, that you put forward, best practices
against what? what is the standard that we are measuring our expectations to pg&e? >> i am not sure if there is a national standard that is set by all the large cities. i think we are trying to reduce the numbers significantly, so we are proceeding on a progressive look at what we can do in our city to make sure it is the safest as possible. i do not know what that national standard is. i do not know that there is a city with no outages. what is example? it is up to us to determine that and to also petition the cpuc for that particular acceptability. >> if i could suggest one, --
supervisor mirkarimi: if i could suggest one, we should be as honest as possible in comparisons to all utility companies in the state of california, that being one standard, and that we listed comparisons between those italic and fees -- utility companies that are privately held to those that are publicly held. then let's have some digram to show what is our safety record compared to those other utilities. even to the private talley companies in california. pg&e seems to have a problem with its service customer area. i am wondering what the best practice standard is that we should try to aspire to. >> i agree with you. that is what i meant by referring to the commission's data and what can and should be the standard for most states,
and we should try to better that. supervisor mirkarimi: pg&e typically goes to the cpc for its permission to advance rate hike hearings requests so that it can attend to a number of capital improvements, which is par for the course. who, in city and county's jurisdiction of san francisco are we to make sure that what is being requested by the cpuc for rate hike dollars in order to repair, that we monitor that those repairs are actually being done? is it sfpuc, the chief administrative office, the fire department? i want to zero in on the conversation we are having about
this rapport with pg&e. in actuality, dollars are being expended, consumer repair dollars are being spent for those repairs. i want to focus in on what nexus exists for us in determining whether or not those more pronounced repairs are being done. i am not aware of any system, so if that could be part of the conversations you are having with pg&e, i think it would be wise for san francisco to devise such a system. >> i do not think there is a singular agency that has been assigned that task to oversee and injure the monitoring of the cpc proceedings, pg&e's request, and whether the program they have submitted are adequately follow up. our office would be glad to work
with several of the city agency that will be key to that. i can think in my own head who would be necessary to have that information, but we would be willing to consider working with agencies that do so. supervisor mirkarimi: thank you, mr. lee. supervisor chiu: supervisor maxwell? >> so i am to understand the gas side and everything else you mentioned to us is relatively new? these are things you entered into after the explosions? is there a process in place then for this to be on going? have we reviewed anything else that we need to be for something else happens? my concern is with the three main cables coming in. maybe